Soyuz booster rolls out for launch with space station cargo freighter

Space Flight Now – Russian launch crews stood up a Soyuz rocket Sunday on its launch mount in Kazakhstan for a scheduled liftoff Wednesday with approximately 5,500 pounds (2,500 kilograms) of supplies, experiments, fuel and several small satellites to be released by spacewalking cosmonauts at the International Space Station later this year.

The Soyuz-2.1a rocket emerged from an assembly building at the Baikonur Cosmodrome around sunrise Sunday, then trekked on a specialized train car to Launch Pad No. 31 at the historic space base, where technicians hydraulically hoisted the booster vertical. Access platforms raised into position around the Soyuz rocket for final launch preparations.

The launcher is topped with the Progress MS-06 supply ship, an unpiloted logistics freighter heading on a two-day voyage to the International Space Station.

Liftoff is set for 0920:13 GMT (5:20:13 a.m. EDT) Wednesday, or 3:20 p.m. local time at Baikonur.

The modernized Soyuz-2.1a booster, featuring redesigned third stage propellant tanks and a digital flight control computer, will deliver the Progress MS-06 spaceship to orbit less than nine minutes later. Immediately after separating from the Soyuz third stage, the resupply craft will extend its power-generating solar arrays and navigation antennas, kicking off a series of thruster burns to rendezvous with the space station.

Docking with the space station’s Zvezda service module is scheduled for 1142 GMT (7:42 a.m. EDT) Friday after a radar-guided automated final approach.

Designated Progress 67P in the space station’s sequence of crew and cargo vehicles, the upcoming Russian resupply mission will reach the research outpost nearly halfway through the visit of a SpaceX Dragon capsule that delivered nearly 6,000 pounds (2,700 kilograms) of experiments and equipment June 5.

The Progress MS-06 spaceship will carry around 2.5 metric tons (5,500 pounds) of cargo and supplies to the space station, according to a statement released by Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.

The supplies include dry cargo inside the ship’s pressurized compartment, fuel to refill the station’s propulsion system, potable water, and high-pressure gases to replenish the research lab’s breathable atmosphere, Roscosmos said.

Four small satellites are set to launch inside the Progress MS-06 spacecraft’s cabin for release by cosmonauts on a spacewalk later this year.

The Progress MS-06 supply ship will remain at the space station until December, when it will undock with a load of trash and re-enter the atmosphere for a destructive plunge over the South Pacific Ocean.

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